Self-hate is a snake that bites in the dark.
Right in the ass when you least expect it.
My daughter graduated from university this weekend.
I didn’t think I was going to cry — but as soon as I found her in the sea of graduates, three stories below, I was overcome. Adrienne was born when I was significantly younger than she is now. Just twenty years old. You enough that I had a significant (irrational) fear that they might not even let me take her home.
In many, many ways, we grew up together. She taught me about the kind of person I wanted to be, before I was really even fully grown up myself.
She worked so hard for her degree and I am so proud of her. She’s off to San Francisco for graduate school in a couple of months. My baby is following her dreams and it’s just overwhelmingly exciting.
So, I wonder if you can imagine how upsetting and disappointing it is that one of the most intense moments of the last two days was seeing this picture of my husband, our daughters, and me on Facebook.
I hate — HATE — that my first reaction to seeing this picture wasn’t pride or joy. It was disgust. Fleeting and quickly overcome, but still there.
No matter what I do, it’s still there.
I can’t look at myself without feeling it. I can’t see myself without seeing every perceived flaw first. In this photo, like in every single photo that’s ever been taken of me, I lead with my belly.
The first thing I see is my stomach. How round it is. How my jeans dig into it. How I have no waist. How the bulk of it pushes my arms away from my body.
It doesn’t matter what’s going on in my world, I’m always aware of being fat.
I’ve lost 120 pounds and I’m still aware of being fat.
I have a business I adore, I just found out my new book is available for pre-order from a major publisher, my family is amazing. And I’m still constantly aware of being fat.
I don’t have to use a CPAP anymore, I’m not in constantly daily pain anymore, I can sit in an airplane seat now. And I’m still always, always aware of being fat.
It is my top-level piece of self-awareness and I don’t know how to suck the poison out of that snake bite.
I want to be a person practices radical self-acceptance. I want to be okay with just being who I am.
I want to see the pride in my face before I see how thick my waist is.
I want to eat well and exercise because it makes me feel good, not because it might make my body shrink.
Usually, I’m pretty good at pretending to be there, at least.
And sometimes I’m blindsided by someone posting a picture of me on Facebook where I can see how the seam of my jeans digs into the soft, bread-dough mound of my lower stomach.
And I know I’m not there.
I don’t know if I ever will be. But, I’ll keep trying.
Shaunta Grimes is a writer and teacher. She lives in Reno with her husband, three superstar kids, and a yellow rescue dog named Maybelline Scout. She’s on Twitter @shauntagrimes, is the author of Viral Nation and Rebel Nation and the upcoming middle-grade novel The Astonishing Maybe and is the original Ninja Writer.